HIKES IN THE DESERT LOWLANDS

Southwest of Springdale and north of Route 9 is the hottest, driest section of Zion National Park and is overlooked by most visitors as they drive to and from the main canyon. At a lower elevation than any other part of the park, the desert section's beauty is more subtle and is pleasant only in the cooler months, but several washes are worthy of exploration up into this lonely area of the park. Beyond Zion National Park proper and south of Rockville in BLM land, routes to the Eagle Crags formations and Canaan Mountain offer wonderfully isolated hiking and backpacking possibilities.

CHINLE TRAIL
Rating: fairly strenuous dayhike or backpacking. backpacking route
While there are many hiking possibilities in the "desert section" of Zion National Park, the Chinle Trail is the one official trail of the area. Starting in the "Anasazi Plateau" residential development, the trail heads northwest up onto the Rockville Bench and into national park lands. The trail continues for roughly seven miles, crossing over a petrified forest and several washes of the area: Huber Wash, Scoggins Wash, and Coalpits Wash. The trail can be brutally hot during the summer and the scenery is less exhilarating than most other parts of Zion, but this trail is an opportunity to get away from the crowds.
TRAIL INFORMATION and PHOTOS...
Chinle Trail
HUBER WASH
Huber Wash Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.
Huber Wash is one of the major drainages in Zion's southern desert section. This wash is usually dry and at roughly two miles in length between Route 9 and the Chinle Trail, it makes for a fairly easy half-day hike. As with all hikes in the desert section, it could be brutally hot during the summer and should be saved for the cooler months. For those with a little scrambling experience, Huber Wash can be used as an alternate start to the Chinle Trail.
ROUTE INFORMATION and PHOTOS...
COALPITS WASH
Rating: moderately strenuous backpacking. backpacking route
Coalpits Wash is the major drainage in the southern desert section of Zion National Park. As you drive Route 9 from La Verkin to Springdale, you may pass right over the drainage and not give it a second thought. From the road, Coalpits Wash may appear to be a barren and uninteresting drainage, but if you're looking for a long day hike or a mild backpacking adventure, you can hike up Coalpits Wash for roughly nine miles of sublime and lonely scenery to surround yourself with the great Zion formations.
ROUTE INFORMATION and PHOTOS...
Coalpits Wash
SCOGGINS WASH
Scoggins Wash Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.
Scoggins Wash is a short tributary of the larger Coalpits Wash and provides extra territory to explore for those hiking the Chinle Trail. There is usually a small flow of water in the upper sections of this barren-looking wash and while this isn't a destination hike, many will find a hike through this drainage to be an interesting experience. Combine this with the Chinle Trail or Coalpits Wash to make a good day hike.
ROUTE INFORMATION and PHOTOS...
CRATER HILL to COALPITS WASH
Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.
Yet another alternative start to exploring the desert section is via the high-clearance Dalton Wash Road west of Coalpits Wash. The trailhead is located at the western park boundary just north of Crater Hill and provides somewhat easier access to Upper Coalpits Wash. As the landscape is hot and desolate, this option would not be appealing during the hotter months. The faint trail heads east and joins up with Coalpits Wash at the official end of the Chinle Trail.
ROUTE INFORMATION and PHOTOS...
Crater Hill
JOE'S BEST OF THE DESERT HIKE
Best of the Desert Rating: fairly strenuous dayhike.
Have you ever wanted to hike the Chinle Trail, Huber Wash, Scoggins Wash, and Coalpits Wash all in one day but you didn't think it was possible? Don't you wish you could do a loop hike that doesn't involve backtracking over scenery that you have already seen? Are you tired of dishwasher spots on your glasses? Well, your problems have just been solved because this narcissistically named hiking route is just what you have been looking for!
ROUTE INFORMATION and PHOTOS...
GRAFTON (Ghost Town)
Rating: easy family stroll. family-friendly
Located on the southern banks of the Virgin River outside of Zion National Park, the ghost town of Grafton was first settled in 1859. A flood in 1862 and Indian attacks in 1866 helped lead to its eventual abandonment. The site is now maintained by the Grafton Heritage Partnership and includes several historic buildings (several which have been restored) and an old cemetery. A visit to Grafton makes for a pleasant family stroll through history.
ROUTE INFORMATION and PHOTOS...
Grafton Ghost Town
EAGLE CRAGS TRAIL (and Lower Mountain)
Eagle Crags Trail Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.
If you look south of Springdale, you may notice the jagged rock formations of the Eagle Crags looming in the distance. Located in BLM land south of Rockville, the Eagle Crags Trail is a pleasant half-day hike that approaches and circles east of the Vermilion Cliffs to end just under the imposing Eagle Crags formations. Along the way, you will get good views of the mouth of Zion Canyon to the north and Parunuweap Canyon to the east. And for those looking for something longer and more strenuous, the hike can be extended to reach the top of Lower Mountain.
TRAIL INFORMATION and PHOTOS...
WATER CANYON and CANAAN MOUNTAIN
Rating: fairly strenuous day hike.
Located on BLM land near the Arizona border several miles south of Zion National Park, accessible from behind the remote town of Hildale, Water Canyon is a beautiful little oasis in the middle of the desert. Reminiscent of The Subway, Water Canyon is a narrow canyon with a clever trail that follows the fractures in the west side of the canyon to make its way to the mountains above. Once out of the canyon, Canaan Mountain is a beautiful and wild island in the sky that beckons for exploration.
ROUTE INFORMATION and PHOTOS...
Canaan Mountain
LA VERKIN OVERLOOK TRAIL
La Verkin Overlook Trail Rating: short moderately strenuous hike.
Roughly 19 miles west of Zion National Park, Route 9 passes through the neighboring towns of Hurricane and La Verkin and ascends the Hurricane Cliffs formations to the east. The La Verkin Overlook Trail is a short old trail on BLM land that skirts the edge of the cliffs and offers good views down into an impressive section of gorge that has been cut by the Virgin River as it flows to the towns below. While this isn't a destination hike for tourists visiting Zion National Park, the viewpoint and trail can be a fun diversion for those looking to do something a little less touristy.
TRAIL INFORMATION and PHOTOS...


Hiking symbols used for descriptions:
a Zion classic ZION CLASSIC: a must-do hike if you want to see the best of Zion!
family-friendly FAMILY-FRIENDLY: a good choice for those with children who like to hike.
backpacking route BACKPACKING: a route enjoyable as a multi-day hike.
technical canyoneering or climbing route TECHNICAL: canyoneering or scrambling route requiring technical gear and climbing and/or rappelling experience. Not suitable for casual hikers.

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